Thursday, November 18, 2010

Golden Harvest Progress...

I have finished the "embellishments" on the top of this mini Pizzazz quilt. I've used shiny metallic thread to outline some of the prominent golden outlined elements, and beaded where I thought it would make the most impact. This is the part of the process that takes the longest amount of time.

This represents the beading I did in the center of the daisy mums. The size of the beads are 11/0 in a matte brown with some speckle.
This photo shows the beading I did to enhance the berries. I used a lighter color in the center and darker cranberry beads around the outer areas to create a three dimensional look. These beads are also 11/0 glass beads in a shiny-clear finish. The center beads are clear on the outside and colored pink on the inside.
This last photo represents some of the gold beading I did to follow the swirling on one of the coordinating fabrics in the piece. These are precision made Aico gold coated glass beads, size 11/0 in hexagon shape and a matte finish.

The next step is to sew the backing fabric to the top and begin "quilting" the two pieces together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Attracked to the Flame - Part III

Speaking of getting burned... This is the kiln. When I bring the temperature up to around 1,000 degrees F. to anneal my glass work, the outside of the kiln gets hot to the touch as well - especially the metal parts! However, these warm surface areas outside of the kiln become a very useful tool. (The white top you see does not get as hot.)

In the first picture, you can see some glass rods and "frit", along with some stringers up on top of the kiln. The reason they are there is to warm them prior to use. If you warm your rods before taking them to the flame for melting, it is less likely that they will crack or break. Broken rods can shoot hot glass across a room and if it lands on something that can be burned, it will leave a permanent scar - not to mention if it hits your face! (Although, typically it will shoot away from you - so be aware of what is lying in front of your working space.)

I use stainless steel items to place my rods in so that they don't roll around while on the the top of the kiln. The tip of the rod that I will be melting in the flame is placed on the kiln, while the other end (handle), is placed off of the kiln as far as possible without it falling off. This keeps the part of the rod you will be holding cool enough to handle without burning yourself when you pick it up. It also keeps the paper tag from burning, which I like to keep so I know what colors I have used up and need to reorder.

Contained in the colorful dishes on the top of the kiln in the second photo are what I call recyclable waste glass - in other words, mistakes! Many beads and marbles do not work out to my high standards of perfection. If that happens, I remelt the glass and use it for something else - usually marbles for my grandsons (I have plenty). It is always good to preheat these larger pieces of glass before trying to reintroduce them to the flame since they can crack, split, explode, break into a million pieces and fall onto your work table below (or your lap!), and the list goes on. So I warm them ahead of time on top, and if I'm going to actually introduce large pieces into the flame, they're actually placed inside of the kiln for a while.

The tiny pieces of glass you see are called "frit". When pulling stringers (a subject for another day), they tend to spit off a tiny tip of the pull spot and leave it on the work space when you pick up the frit for sorting and storage. Depending on what the stringers were made for - some can be striped or swirled, or very colorful - these tiny tips can make for some very interesting color combinations (or "confetti") on top of an already formed bead as a last step. I like to use the inside of marble with a lot of clear in between so they seem to be floating inside.

I guess the bottom line here is to warm your raw materials as much as possible before carefully and slowly introducing them to the flame for melting. Things will go much smoother if you do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attracked to the Flame - Part II

One of the most important tools in my shop is in this photo - give up? It's the WATER! Yes, water. When working with a flame you will get burned. It's not a matter of "if", but rather "when"...

The water that I bring out fresh each time I go to work on my torch, is kept close at hand (hand being the key word here). The first place you want to stick your hand if you happen to burn yourself, is right into that water - and keep it there while the cool water draws out the heat of the burn. If you happen to drop a marble in your lap (done that), and your clothes burn, you can simply grab around the outside of the burnt hole and dunk it in the water.

The water serves other purposes as well. When working with tools such as pliers, tweezers, mashers, etc., you can dip the end of the tool in the water to cool it off so that it does not get so hot that the glass piece or the glass itself doesn't begin to stick to it. Even if it does, a quick dunk in the cool water and a bump on the bottom will release the glass that was stuck to the tool.

Another good use of the cool water is when you are making marbles and using steel punties (handles, instead of the "mandrels" used to make beads that need a hole in them). As soon as you remove one punty to switch to another to work on the opposite side of the marble, the hot punty goes right into the water. This way, you don't need to worry about placing it on some surface nearby that may burn - and the punty is now ready to be used again for the reverse side during your work if needed.

The towel you see next to the water is soaked with either water or window cleaner so that I can wipe off any new glass rod that I am about to heat up in the flame. While most dust and debris tends to simply burn off of the glass as you heat it, I prefer not dealing with that process - especially when working with clear, which has its own set of problems in terms of keeping it clear throughout the process for a sparkling clear end product.